We have now reached the logical conclusion of the cross-over era, where all the party colors have mixed into brown.
The After Party
In this post-party era (the After Party if you will), the only significant differences are personalities. The SLFP is officially headed by Maithripala – who is a wonderful, unifying personality – but in practice they tend to vote against his better interests.
The id of the SLFP – it’s instinctual self – is Mahinda Rajapaksa, currently doing a race-baiting temple tour. A vote for the SLFP is still a vote with a chance of him becoming Prime Minister again, which would be horrible. If the SLFP got a lot of votes Mahinda could claim responsibility. That said, Maithripala seems to be playing hard-ball behinds the scenes, telling Mahinda that he will not be the Prime Minister or focus of the campaign, and also by denying nominations to the notable criminals that form much of Mahinda’s support.
The main alternative is the UNP. That party is still headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe who – as much as he sucks – is not notably corrupt or grievously incompetent. He does run the party undemocratically, arrogantly and is not what I would call a likable politician. He has also backed the scandal plagued Arjuna Mahendran, appointed the dodgy Ravi Karunayake (just out of indictment for financial fraud) as Finance Minister, and delegates to a few school chums above all else.
On the plus side, however, he doesn’t encourage racism, isn’t surrounded by violent criminals, and has a University education and educated professionals in the party. Shockingly low bar, I know, but the UNP currently clears it better than the SLFP. The party itself does have some good professionals in it (Harsha De Silva, Eran Wickramaratne) and less than the usual amount of criminals.
Policy wise, the SLFP isn’t stable enough to direct ideas in any direction. The 100 Day plan was mostly the UNPs work, as has been much of the governing so far. Most of the people under investigation for corruption and abuse of power are also from the SLFP.
The way this election will break seems really uncertain, to me at least. The UNP will do way way better than previous general elections, but they will still lose a bunch of minority votes to the TNA (the main Tamil party). The main Muslim party, however, seems like they will contest with the UNP this time, giving them an edge in Colombo, urban areas and the East.
The SLFP offers a very confusing value proposition (are you voting for Mahinda or Maithripala?) but if the election broke exactly like the Presidential, the SLFP would win. Mahinda got less votes overall, but he would have won more seats on an electorate by electorate basis. The SLFP, however, smells weak for the first time in years and voters don’t like that. Their candidates have also been behaving like assholes that would never be out of power. I’m not sure that loses you votes in Sri Lanka though.
This election I broadly support the March 12 Declaration, which advocates for a clean Parliament. It’s points are that an elected MP should meet the following criteria:
- Should not be a criminal.
- Free of bribery and corruption.
- Free of anti-social trades
- Environment friendly.
- Not abusing authority.
- Free of abusive financial contracts.
- Close to their electors.
- Adequate opportunities for women and youth.
As such my top candidates (for Colombo district) now are Harsha De Silva, Eran Wickramatana, and Rosy Senanayake. But that may change depending on who ends up running. As you can see, that’s mostly UNP, english speaking, whatever. I’m not saying those are the best candidates, but they’re who I personally like. As annoying as I find Ranil, I still find his party well preferable to the SLFP, especially with Mahinda lurking in the back like a bad smell.